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The product is yourself

Some good points are made here, in a short article drawing upon the work of media ecologist Neil Postman and Shoshana Zuboff. In Surveillance Capitalism the services might be free but that’s because the product is yourself.

… search is presented to us as a tool for looking outward, but in fact it is a biopsy. It “extracts” our interests, habits, convictions, hopes, friends, purchases, politics, exact ­location, and much more. Postman’s information crisis was solved by turning the astounding availability of information about very nearly everything into an occasion to gain information about a very specific thing: us. The vast ocean of digital information, which requires tools to navigate, became the pathway to control.

This system of control started by steering us to products. But now it does far more. Caution against the drums of war? You’ll be mobbed. Break a story damaging to candidate Biden? Deplatformed. ­Question mask efficacy? Fact-checked*.* Support Trump? De-banked. Challenge Fauci? Discredited for ­disinformation.

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There’s a whole ball of stuff in the article you link to. I’ll start with this bit…

It begins with the invention of “information” by Samuel Morse, the man behind the Morse code. By “information” Postman means “statements about the facts of the world.” Not facts themselves, or “knowledge,” and “certainly not . . . wisdom.” Morse code, ­Postman explained, created a new kind of message, “anonymous, ­decontextualized,” and stripped of “human personality itself, as an aspect of communication.”

In December 2017 I went back to the UK for the first time in 10 years. I had no problem with the UK (it’s my homeland). I was on an overnight ferry from Caen to Portsmouth (7 hour crossing) and what really struck me was that just about everyone was continuously on their smart phone or other digital device. There were couples in the bar sitting across the table from each other who had no direct communication, because they were using their gadgets. I found it quite disturbing/frightening.

One of the joys of travel is the people you meet. Not much chance of this on that ferry crossing, where most people were like heroin junkies shooting-up with their gadgets.

Yes, I know I’m typing this on my computer, on the internet; but it stays on my desk and I don’t feel any need to take it with me when I’m out and about (I don’t have any kind of mobile phone).


Postman and Orlov saying closely-related things. Dmitry calls it ‘The Technosphere’, and characterises it (in my lexicon, not his) as a malevolent egregore, whose main function is to enslave and use humans for its own continuance and growth.

Both these commentators are also describing what Godfrey Reggio began to describe in the '70s, with his ‘Qatsi’ film trilogy: “Life out of balance”: Perceptive observers all noticing the same destructive process seeping into recent human society. Jim Kunstler calls it ‘techno-narcissm’: the slavish faith in the inherent desirability of all things startrekkie-techie.

I sometimes imagine far-future archaeologists stumbling on abandoned, half-fossilised techie-junk, which will be all that’s left of the current huge physical infrastructure, the rusting remains of the server-farms which manifest The Cloud, on which all these oceans of - eventually abandoned - ‘valuable’ information about all the details of our lives are stored as digitised traces; by that time mostly evaporated…

Thank god, therefore, for The Limits To Growth, the inevitable Long Descent away from hitech industrial societies which they mandate, and the trashing of the Technosphere which this - already begun - descent makes inescapable!*

Hang in there, and teach your children as you rear them to be averse to the digitisation of their lives: Chances are, they’re going to have to eat cold turkey willy nilly, with the crashing of the Technosphere, even if the current generation of adults stays on the hook for most of our lifetimes; though there’s now no guarantee that it will persist as a functioning global manifestation even for that long.

*The current ‘ban Russia!’ hysteria is just a surface manifestation of the Descent, with the chaos it’s causing in the global energy system. The real, ultimate-rather-than-proximate cause of these upheavals is the ever-tightening screw-down of availability of the one commodity on which ALL economic activity, of any kind, depends: energy. Regardless of the details of the politicking involved, the chaos reflects the steadily-increasing effects of the iron rule of EROEI: energy returned on energy invested (to get it out of the ground, transport it, refine it, and deliver it to end-users).

Once that ratio falls below about five to one, in global aggregate, all other economic endeavours, outside the actual energy-getting business, begin to get starved even of tickover levels of available energy; which is to say: the very functioning infrastructure of society begins to seize, for lack of driving power, and fall apart.

Sound familiar, in your neck of the woods…? The signs about us are often subtle; but they’re becoming ubiquitous whilst we watch.

Note too JMGreer’s contention that the Descent will most likely take the form not of a smooth continuation, but of a sequence of sudden lurch-downs, interspersed with periods of temporary stabilising, but invariably at a lower level than before the lurch; then, eventually, rinse and repeat.

So how are you liking the new, most likely permanent, higher costs of heating and motoring power? Better adjust to it; it’s not going away. This, right now, is the current lurch-down.


don’t have any kind of mobile phone

I wish I could say the same. I hardly ever use the damn thing for communicating directly with people, just distractedly filling idle moments.

Postman theorised that the printed page and the spread of literacy extended and changed (in fact he said “invented”) childhood. Learning abstract knowledge takes time, though the peasant kids were still taking part in work-life out in the real world.

More recently people like Nicholas Carr and Thomas de Zengotita are highlighting how perpetual distractedness and restlessness create people who live in a constant state of stimulation, there’s never time to reflect or even to learn from experience. Pigeons pecking at levers to receive food, people tapping at Captchas to prove they’re not robots.

I can’t claim to have been unaffected: the very notion of an “idle moment” that must be filled betrays that.

Protracted power cuts may be a blessing to us all: no more stupid devices or Netflix predictive programming, for a start.

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“Postman theorised that the printed page and the spread of literacy extended and changed (in fact he said “invented”) childhood. Learning abstract knowledge takes time, though the peasant kids were still taking part in work-life out in the real world”

Quote; "Precocious Puberty Triggers

While there’s no direct evidence EMF exposure during childhood can trigger early puberty, one animal study21 did find Wi-Fi and cell phone radiation during pregnancy increased the risk of early puberty in the offspring.

So, it’s possible that generational effects are at play, and/or that this susceptibility is worsened by other environmental factors such as diet, lack of exercise, obesity, stress and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and foods high in estrogen.

Without a clear cause, it’s difficult to prescribe a remedy. But I believe it’s safe to say that parents would be wise to pay close attention to what their children are doing and being exposed to — pandemic or not" https://forum.5filters.info/c/covid/9

Quote; "Investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance, says a global study from the OECD.

The think tank says frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.

The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes”.

Tom Bennett, the government’s expert on pupil behaviour, said teachers had been “dazzled” by school computers.

The report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development examines the impact of school technology on international test results, such as the Pisa tests taken in more than 70 countries and tests measuring digital skills.

It says education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.


“If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms,” said Mr Schleicher.

“Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.”" https://www.bbc.com/news/business-34174796

Quote; "Allowing students to use computers and the internet in classrooms substantially harms their results, a study has found.

The paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students barred from using laptops or digital devices in lectures and seminars did better in their exams than those allowed to use computers and access the internet.

The researchers suggested that removing laptops and iPads from classes was the equivalent of improving the quality of teaching.

The study divided 726 undergraduates randomly into three groups in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. The control group’s classrooms were “technology-free,” meaning students were not allowed to use laptops or tablets at their desk. Another group was allowed to use computers and other devices, and the third group had restricted access to tablets.

“The results from our randomised experiment suggest that computer devices have a substantial negative effect on academic performance,” the researchers concluded, suggesting that the distraction of an electronic device complete with internet access outweighed their use for note-taking or research during lessons.

The research had an unusual twist: the students involved were studying at the West Point academy in the US, where cadets are ruthlessly ranked by exam results, meaning they were motivated to perform well and may have been more disciplined than typical undergraduates.

But even for the cream of the US army’s future crop, the lure of the digital world appears to have been too much, and exam performance after a full course of studying economics was lower among those in classes allowed to use devices." https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/may/11/students-who-use-digital-devices-in-class-perform-worse-in-exams

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